Northampton newsagent calls on Chancellor to abandon possible new cigarettes tax

Sadhana Patel, co-owner, of Classic News
Sadhana Patel, co-owner, of Classic News

Small corner shops in Northampton could go out of business if it a tax on tobacco is announced later today, a newsagent says.

Jayesh Patel who has run Classic News in Park Avenue South, Abington, for about thirty years says that smokers will turn to the black market if prices go up significantly.

And he fears the effect of that on his shop, which benefits from sales of groceries off the back of cigarettes.

He said: "In this tough, economic climate we retailers are all struggling to maintain sales across the board.

“Introducing a Minimum Excise Tax for tobacco will only drive more customers away from our shops and to the criminals who run the black market.

“This will lead to closure of small shops and businesses, who are the lifeblood of the UK economy and at the heart of the community. I would think this will only reduce income for the local council and government.”

The Government believes taxing tobacco would be a popular move that could generate money, but also save the NHS money if it reduces smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer and heart disease.

Mr Patel said the new tax would predominantly hit smokers who are unable to afford premium cigarette brands.

Some packs cost £7 and if - as is thought - the minimum amount of tax is £8, some smokers may feel inclined to circumvent taxed tobacco altogether - and small shops that rely on the income.

He said: "I think a better way would be education of younger people not to smoke. That would be more gradual and it'd allow time for shops to adapt, rather than be hit with loss of income."